Thursday, September 22, 2005

Teen Leads The Way In Modesty

Claire Halibur and her mother. Posted by Picasa

Teen offers new outlook for women
By JACQUELINE PINNPosted Thursday, September 1, 2005

Dressed in a bright colored print blouse and a green skirt, the young woman looked like she had come out of an episode of “Little House on the Prairie.” While she admitted her different style of dress often gets odd looks from passersby; she is determined to serve as an example of modesty for women of all ages.

In today’s culture of teenage sexual exploration through dress and speech, Claire Halibur has found young women who are more interested in covering up rather than letting it all hang out. As a result, the 17-year-old Joliet native has created a modesty movement that offers resources for young women of all faiths.

Halibur and her mother Barbara sat down with the Catholic Explorer Aug. 26 to discuss the group and the issues that arise when young women follow the path of modesty in modern culture.

The idea to start a modesty movement came to Halibur in June of 2004 after the young woman had spoken at an international conference for young women in Wisconsin. “I gave a talk about how modesty and purity can work for young women in this day and age,” she said.
After her speech, Halibur was approached by young women asking for ways to follow the path of modesty. “When I started thinking about it, I realized that there really weren’t all that many resources concerning modesty, unless you know where to look for them,” she said.

That’s when Halibur decided to begin a movement, which would offer young women a place to find those resources and to connect with other girls their age. “I wanted to let them know that if they choose to begin a journey of modesty they will not be alone,” said Halibur.

When the time came to name the new movement, Halibur looked to her faith for inspiration. “The Blessed Mother, for example, should serve as the perfect role model in terms of modesty. After all she is one of the most beautiful and modest women history has ever known,” she said.
That is why Halibur calls her group the Rosa Mystica Modesty Movement. “Because one of the Blessed Mother’s names is the Rose of Mystery,” she said.

Clothing is only one of the avenues Halibur promotes when discussing the issue of modesty. “Modesty also concerns how you carry yourself, how you act and how you speak to other people,” she said.

As an example, Halibur spoke about young women she has seen dressed in halter-tops and short skirts. “Those women may act confident, but all their trying to do is get someone to notice how they are dressed, so they can feel good about themselves,” she said.

While she doesn’t put down actresses like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie for the way they dress, Halibur does suggest that young women take a good long look at their role models and their lifestyles. “They may seem happy, but a deeper look might reveal a young woman who is really uncomfortable with the way she looks,” she said.

When discussing her own role models, Halibur said she looks to the Blessed Mother and the saints to guide her. “These are women who weren’t afraid to see their bodies as temples and to protect themselves, because they knew they were made in God’s image,” she said.

In particular, Halibur looks at the life of St. Philomena, a young Greek woman who died rather than be forced to marry a Roman emperor. “She was a young woman who stuck to her guns and followed God’s path for her, even though it meant her death,” she said.

Undertaking a journey of modesty isn’t just something for young women, according to Halibur, women of all ages can benefit from her movement. “I have had so many mothers and grandmothers come up to me asking for ideas not just their daughters and granddaughters, but for themselves as well,” she said.

In addition, Halibur discusses modesty issues with young men. “It is their reactions to what women are wearing that promotes this culture of lust that we are dealing with,” she said.

The dedicated young woman suggested that men compliment women on their modesty and encourage them to view their bodies as temples to God. “Women do listen to the reactions of the people around them. And I think with some positive reinforcement things will begin to change,” she said.

While she did admit that her dress and position on the issue of modesty often draws negative reactions from onlookers, she has tried to rise above it. “Many people peg my family and I as Mormons then are surprised when we say we are Roman Catholic,” she said. But more often than not, the family is bombarded with questions and requests. “So many people ask us where we get our clothes or what we mean by modesty,” she said.

Even though her modesty movement has been growing across the country, Halibur doesn’t really see herself as a role model. “All I’m trying to do is share the gifts that God has given to me,” she said. In addition to offering copies of her speech on purity, Halibur also offers a book full of modesty resources and literature. “It’s just my way of offering hope to the young women of the world,” she said.

The young woman also has been working on creating a Web site for members of the movement to access. “I hope to have the same resources that are currently offered in the guide, along with testimonials and other information about modesty issues,” she said.

When discussing the issue of modesty, Halibur suggested talking to girls early about the subject. “At a young age, girl’s minds are formed by what they see in the world. So that by the time they get to be teenagers, they don’t see anything wrong with the way they are dressed,” she said.
But if enough young women take up the cause of modesty, Halibur said change could occur. “We could set the trends and make a new world in which young women could feel comfortable in their skin,” she said.


Kate said...

There is a modesty/homeschooling/women-at-home Roman Catholic church in my area. I often see the mother and her daughters at re-enactments. She and I have spoken before, and she told me that their clothing must cover their arms fully, have a high neck, a bit baggy to avoid figure-revealing, and must go down to their ankles. She told me that they headcover in church and the church is looking into whether or not they should cover all the time. It's really interesting that other denominations are turning this route and it isn't just anabaptists anymore.

CJ said...

A lot of Christian denominations are faling into the modesty meme, and the guidelines Kate mentioned are the usually much the same across denominational lines - long baggy dresses with high necklines, which cover the arms and legs, and a headcovering of some type.

What a lot of people don't realize is that these new, strict modesty standards are NOT Christian in origin, they are Jewish, and they aren't mentioned in the Law of Moses either -- you can't find these guidelines anywhere in the Bible.
The new modesty guidelines have nothing specifically to do with orthodox Christianity. Nowhere does the Bible tell us to cover our arms, and there is nothing mentioned about covering our heads outside of worship services, either. In fact, there is no such dress code as this to be found anywhere in the Bible, in either the Old or the New Testaments.
Where you CAN find this code, almost word for word, is in the Tzinius code of the Babylonian Talmud, which was compiled AFTER the birth of Christianity, somewhere between three and five centuries after the death and Resurrection of Christ and the fall of Jerusalem; and incidentally, this is also the dress code of Islam.

Interesting, that....

Calla Lilly said...

Interesting indeed! The best resource I have found for Biblical standards (not Jewish) of modesty are in Jeff Pollard's Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America.

CJ said...

Biblical standards? Pollard criticizes sleeveless attire --where does the Bible speak out against sleeveless clothing?
Besides, Pollard is quoted by such notables as "Lady Lydia" and those other folks over at "Patriarch's Path", so I think I'll take anything he has to say with a BIG grain of salt.

CJ said...

Lest I forget, another proponent of extreme modesty is the Reverend Sun Yung Mood, (and he also quotes Pollard!)

CJ said...

I meant, Sun Yung *Moon*...

Calla Lilly said...

Obviously we have a difference of opinion about what is Biblical. What do you consider to be modest, and what do you base it on?

CJ said...

What do I consider to be modest?

Well, we can look at the dictionary definition of modesty, and MORE IMPORTANTLY, look at what the Bible says and does not say about it.

The dictionary defines "modest" as:

1.)Having or showing a moderate estimation of one's own talents, abilities, and value.

2.)Having or proceeding from a disinclination to call attention to oneself; retiring or diffident. See Synonyms at shy 1.

3.)Observing conventional proprieties in speech, behavior, or dress.

4.)Free from showiness or ostentation; unpretentious. See Synonyms at plain.

5.)Moderate or limited in size, quantity, or range; not extreme: a modest price; a newspaper with a modest circulation.

In other words, modesty as it has been traditionally defined has to do with not calling attention to oneself. This is closely related to the virtue of HUMILITY. Part of not calling undue attention to oneself involves dressing within the bounds of decency, of course, but that is not the sense in which the word "modest" is used in the Bible.

The Bible says:

1Ti 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

This verse is about women not calling attention to themselves by ostentation in dress. It has little to do with whether we show our arms or legs, and EVERYTHING to do with HUMILITY: the verse instructs women to wear modest apparel and then goes on to define what such apparel is by defining what it IS NOT: gold, pearls, broidered hair, and costly array -- the ostentatious trappings of wealth. We are cautioned to avoid calling undue attention to ourselves through OSTENTATION, to avoid trying to outdo one another in beauty and outward appearance, and to avoid obvious displays of WEALTH. The word, "shamefacedness" translates to "bashfulness" or, again, humility.

This ties right in to what Jesus had to say about clothing, which is surprisingly little.
Did you ever notice how very little Jesus had to say about how
people should dress, beyond telling them NOT to worry about what they wear, in Matthew 6:25 & 6:28, and NOT to dress like the Pharisees in ostentatiously religious apparel, in Matthew 23:5?

He tells us to "take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?"
Jesus does caution us against immodest dress, however. He cautions His followers AGAINST ("do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. Matt23:3) dress which is an obvious, OSTENTATIOUS and outward display of religion, like that worn by the Pharisees, in Matthew 23:5:
"But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments..."

Again, modesty as seen in the Bible seems to be more about humility that about "covering up".

Jesus Himself had no problem with taking His own clothing off and stripping to His undertunic (this was considered NAKEDNESS in His day) when He washed His Apostles' feet (John 13:4). In fact, the only time Jesus mentioned nakedness was to say that we should feed the hungry and clothe the naked (Matthew 25:36), but He never condemned the naked or criticized anyone for their outward appearance, other than those Pharisees in Matthew

He also defended rather than criticized both of the women who anointed Him and washed and dried His feet with their "immodest" unbound, uncovered hair (how many women who "cover" nowadays would be willing to take their hair down in public and do that, I wonder, and what would their pastors say if they did ????); and let's remember that it was Judas and the Pharisees who were quick to
judge them, not Jesus. (Luke 7, and John 12:3).

In short, there is no dress code in the Bible. We are not told how much of our arms, legs, or torsos we may or may not show -such customs change from age to age and culture to culture; we ARE told not to dress in such a way as to call attention to ourselves, and to practice humility, which is an ageless, timeless virtue.
Common sense dictates that we not call attention to ourselves by dressing like hookers, which is probably why the writers of Sacred Scriptures did not find it necessary to mention it. But pride and human nature can easily lead us into ostentation in dress, which the Scriptures DO warn against; and Jesus Himself found it necessary to warn His followers against religious ostentation, which is what much (but not all) of the Extreme Modesty Movement is really all about.

CJ said...

...and I forgot to ask you, Calla Lily (that's a pretty name, BTW), what do you consider to be modest, and upon what (Biblically speaking) do you base your opinion?

Calla Lilly said...

I may be able to post a decent answer for you in a few days, but right now time is at a premium in my life. I haven't posted a blog in quite awhile at either site. For now here is a list of a few of my posts on modesty:
May 2, 2005
May 9, 2005
May 11, 2005
May 19, 2005
May 24, 2005
May 26, 2005
May 28, 2005
May 29, 2005
June 14, 2005
June 21, 2005
July 19, 2005
July 21, 2005
July 28, 2005
Aug. 1, 2005
Aug. 8, 2005
Aug. 17, 2005
Aug. 18, 2005
Sept. 22, 2005
After that I ran out time to look. As you can see, modesty is important to me. I don't, however, believe that there is an exact hemline or hair length to be adhered to. I do believe that there are definite guidelines for inward and outward modesty in the Bible. I'll try to get to that in a few days. Thanks for your patience.